Blood and Lace - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Blood and Lace Reviews

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December 4, 2016
Bad, but enjoyable bad horror film about teenage orphans and runaways who end up in a crooked orphanage run by Gloria Grahame (who's one of my favorite actresses of the 40s and 50s) and her evil handyman, Len "Uncle Leo" Lesser. The two sadistic caretakers kill many of their charges and then keep them frozen, so they can pose them later in beds when the state comes to do head-counts. The film also centers on the latest teenage orphan to join the crooked orphanage, Melody Patterson, who's parents were brutally murdered in their sleep by a hammer wielding psycho, and who now may be stalked by the killer herself. None of the filmmakers behind the camera ever made anything else of note, unless you count the the screenwriter's other credits "The Gay Deceivers," The Night God Screamed" and "Mama's Dirty Girls." Overall, this is a pretty silly film, but you can definitely see this film as a porto-slasher film and as being influential on later (better) slather films to come (i.e.. "Halloween, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," etc.). The opening murder scene is shot from the POV of the killer would be copied (and done better) by John Carpenter in 1978's "Halloween" which really did launch the slasher film genre. Vic Tayback also appears as a detective and Dennis Christopher appears as one of the orphans.
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2015
A giallo with a low body count that predates Black Christmas and Halloween for the opening POV tracking shot of the killer, Blood and Lace was an influential 1971 slasher picture. Under the harsh light of modern times, it's a clunky, plodding and altogether harebrained concoction with stock music from the Ed Wood films of yesteryear. The vantage point technique is shoddy though with the claw hammer (the murderer's weapon of choice) practically mounted to the lens as if the culprit was holding it right above his nose. Draining the film of nocturnal ambience is the high-key lighting scheme which would be more appropriate for The Mary Tyler Moore sitcom. With nary a shriek or pulverizing sound effects, the hammer deaths are tepid. Obviously the charred mask and red sweater were reconfigured for A Nightmare on Elm Street. But just because it was the template doesn't mean Wes Craven didn't substantially improve upon it. When Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is orphaned and incessantly reminded that she doesn't know the identity of her father, the plot twist is telegraphed miles ahead. Except the shockingly lurid incest-and-blocked-memories revelation ("Evil breeds evil honey") in the final moments can't scrub away the pure boredom of teenage angst with Ellie and her peers prattling about their absentee parents. The kernel behind a halfway house with decomposing runaways is a pulpy and could've been skin-crawling but it's comical putty in the maladroit hands of Philip S. Gilbert. All of the "orphans" are incontrovertibly played by 30-year-olds. In the Mommie Dearest role, Gloria Grahame is a slurring shrew but she lacks the combustibility although her soliloquies to her refrigerated husband are loony. This is not a treasure trove in the sands of time.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2015
Cheaply made and for the most part badly actor slasher flick is one of several pieces of junk Gloria Grahame unfortunately was reduced to making at the end of her career. The ending in particular is beyond stupid. Really scrapes the bottom of the barrel.
March 11, 2014
This is a pretty good movie considering the age of it. I mean it kept me in suspense.and is pure trash and I really mean that in the nicest possible way! This film comes very much recommended to all the right people.
½ January 13, 2013
Blood and Lace would have been way more of a chore to get through if it didn't have Seinfeld's Uncle Leo as a maniac. Also Dennis Christopher looks like Thurston Moore to a T here. Some decent scenes including Uncle Leo chasing the kid with the cleaver.
½ November 29, 2012

"Your boozing has cost me $150 a month."-Ms. Deere (Gloria Grahame)

Brings on, the urge to watch OLDBOY again. The POV shot of the hammer kill, has to be mentioned because it took place before BLACK CHRISTMAS (RIP Bob Clark).
November 8, 2012
Blood and Lace (Philip S. Gilbert, 1971)

As I am wont to do now and again, I found a going-out-of-business warehouse sale and scored a small mountain of movies to watch. Well, mountain may be a bit inaccurate, but I can build a good foot-and-a-half pyramid out of VHS and DVD cases new to my house. (That this is because yet another local video store chain is on the brink of going out of business has not escaped my notice, and I am no less saddened because I gained by it.) The only problem with such bounty is that sometimes you have so many choices you end up wondering what to watch first. Any of the hundred movies I haven't seen before? No, not me. I decided I'd revisit Blood and Lace, a movie I first saw over thirty years ago on the late-night creature feature. Back in the late seventies, for some reason, there was a minor rage in Pittsburgh for double-billing two of my favorite cheesy seventies horror films, Blood and Lace and Shriek of the Mutilated. I saw both countless times in the late seventies and early eighties, and then they dropped off the radar. Shriek was released on DVD in 2005, and I picked it up immediately. This one still awaits a proper DVD release, so this was an old, old VHS copy someone dug out of the dark corner of a warehouse somewhere. This, of course, just made the nostalgia all that much greater. Remember, kiddies, back in the day, everything was broadcast and constantly adjusting the rabbit ears on your awesome twelve-inch portable TV. How could a crisp, clean transfer do that justice? In any case, seeing it through eyes that have seen another quarter-century-plus worth of movies, Blood and Lace is not nearly as complex as I thought back in the day, nor as well-acted, and I put much of my enduring affection for the film down to simple nostalgia. On the other hand, for a PG-rated theatrical release (that lasted in theaters maybe two weeks before going to the late-night creature features), Blood and Lace is a surprisingly twisted little movie.

We open with the giallo-style hammer murder of Edna Masters (Louise Sherrill, writer and director of another wonderfully cheesy late-sixties horror flick, Ghosts of Hanley House). And yes, giallo-style; there's no doubt in my mind that screenwriter Gil Lasky (the producer of the infamous Spider Baby) had Bava's Blood and Black Lace in mind when titling this monstrosity. (Seriously, look at the original posters for each.) Be that as it may, Edna left behind a daughter, Ellie (F Troop's Melody Patterson), who's something of a rebellious child. When she tries to run away from her court-appointed social worker, he sends her to a local orphanage run by Mrs. Deere (It's a Wonderful Life's Gloria Grahame, showing how far the mighty can fall) and her crazy handyman Tom (Kelly's Heroes' Len Lesser). We find out very early on that runaways in this place never actually make it, instead coming to a very bad end at Tom's hands, but that's just the tip of this perverse iceberg. Once she gets to the orphanage, Ellie strikes up a friendship with Walter (Night of the Witches' Ronald Taft), immediately incurring the wrath of her roommate Bunch (How Sweet It Is!' Terri Messina), who's been after him for a while. But the dynamics between the kids, in general, take second chair to the whacked-out psyche of Mrs. Deere, who plays everyone at the home like a puppet. There's also a police detective, Calvin (Vic Tayback, probably remembered best these days for the long-running sitcom Alice), who seems to take more than a protective interest in Ellie.

Put aside the gaping plot holes (what's Walter, who describes himself as ‚almost twenty-one‚?, still doing at an orphanage?), the generally awful acting, Philip Gilbert's complete inability to direct (he has no other credits of any kind listed at IMDB) and Gil Lasky's script, which is utterly useless as the basis for a suspense film. Instead, focus on the fact that this movie got a PG rating (well, GP at the time) in 1971‚"only two years after Midnight Cowboy got an X!‚"when it contains overt references to pedophilia, rape, and incest. (And this isn't taking into account Mrs. Deere's crazy speculations, which are amusing, but not weird enough to warrant an R. I don't think.) Obviously, in the early seventies, it was much more shocking to be gay. Either that, or the MPAA figured that this movie was so incoherent no one would be able to figure out what's going on, which is not all that unreasonable a stance.

The movie is very little seen nowadays (probably because we understand that rape and pedophilia are more shocking than being gay now...I think), and in some ways that's probably for the best. Six years later Halloween came along and changed American horror forever. I get the feeling that many of today's kids would find this movie boring. And it is laughable, but like Shriek of the Mutilated, it's such a train wreck that you simply can't stop watching it. And when that last line hits and you realize the whole thing has been the biggest theatrical shaggy-dog joke since Ocean's Eleven, you can't help but admire the hubris it must have taken to make this movie. Lasky and Gilbert must have been as crazy as Mrs. Deere to even try. It's a movie that falls into the ‚transcends bad and enters the realm of cheesy greatness‚? category. See it if you get a chance. **
October 17, 2012
Cheese classic. Wacked script over acted. Tries to pile twist upon perverse twist and does an Oldboy switcharoo. Of course this was first but still just weird and really not that good but somehow it was entertaining and twisted. If you want to watch bad cinema then this would be a great start.
August 3, 2012
A typical 70s shock flick with liberal doses of gore. An teenage orphan gets sent to a home run by an evil headmistress and her alcoholic evil handyman. Can she escape? There's a detective played by Vic Tayback (Mel from the TV sitcom "Alice") who is suspicious of the goings on at the orphanage and knows this runaway orphan better than even he thinks he does. Nice double-twist ending, but otherwise pretty standard fare. Worth a watch for fans of 1970s drive-in and grindhouse horror. If you liked Motel Hell, for instance, you'll probably like this, too.
½ April 30, 2012
Fun, cheap, sleazy, vintage '70s B-movie about a horrible woman and her creepy handyman who runs an abusive orphanage. On Netflix Instant Watch now!
March 17, 2012
Super-sleazy, creepy and effective, and hard to believe that this was only a PG. Gloria Grahame and Len Lesser run an orphanage which is more like a workhouse. Into this orphanage comes Melody Patterson, the daughter of the murdered town whore. A mysterious killer wielding a hammer is after her, and Mel from Alice is a police officer with his own creepy motives for trying to protect her. Has about 4 twists in the last 20 minutes (all are predictable, but all of them bump the creep factor up considerably.) Pretty fun if you like this sort of thing.
January 29, 2012
I really loved this one. And it has some to do with Melody Patterson and that sassy hair cut. Plus a kid named Bunch, who is something of a jailbait tramp. Even though I figured out all the twists at the end, long before they were revealed, mainly do to the fantastic way the movie forecasts them. The visuals are incredibly innovative and possibly very influencial. Especially for 1971! Slasher tropes had yet to settle in, so I wonder just how much homage is being paid in the opening sequence of HALLOWEEN - since both movies open with a murder weapon POV. Plus Texas Chainsaw seems to have lifted whole sequences and staging from the freezer sequences. Not to mention DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (the forgotten). Aside from dubious and probably purely invented connections, the movie has other outstanding merits. Such as Vic Tayback, a detective who creeps around like a pervy perv and only got the promotion because it paid 50 dollars more a month and the other guy had a family. Uncle Leo has the best escape method, the only successful joke in the movie, even if he tries to rape Ellie after making it it. Plus the soundtrack is fantastically public domain sounding more like the score to an Saturday afternoon serial like Flash Gordon than a scary movie. The thundering trumpets and splashy cymbals sound be the backdrop to a speedy car chase on a winding cliff road where gangsters are shooting at the good guy who has been drugs and has a yelling woman crying next to him, not the back drop to a hammer and cleaver fight or a slinky scene of hallway exploration! Still. Amazing movie that I really liked.
½ November 2, 2011
Low budget, sloppy, 70s horror.
½ August 21, 2011
Blood and Lace would have been way more of a chore to get through if it didn't have Seinfeld's Uncle Leo as a maniac. Also Dennis Christopher looks like Thurston Moore to a T here. Some decent scenes including Uncle Leo chasing the kid with the cleaver.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2011
A solid horror premise, executed in a boring, clumsy fashion, making this a slow, dull film.
May 8, 2011
Its a pretty standard slasher that is defined by its opening scene (Halloween was obviously inspired) and THAT ending (crackin') that made it stick out that little bit more than the majority of low budget exploitation that came out around the time. Still shaking my head in amazement at the ending.........touche.
½ April 8, 2011
Fun, cheap, sleazy, vintage '70s B-movie about a horrible woman and her creepy handyman who runs an abusive orphanage. On Netflix Instant Watch now!
½ October 15, 2010
i saw this when i was a kid and it scared the shit out of me, good but not great for fans of drive in gore!
½ October 2, 2009
Formulaic slasher that opens with hammer-wielding POV, and then wanders around for an hour before a silly reveal with creepy pedophilic undertones. Fans of Tayback or Grahame may want to stick around, but probably not.
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